A workhorse designed by bartenders for bartenders.
Review Fords Gin
Made in: London, England, by Thames Distillers, bottled by the 86 co. in California.
Method: macerated, then pot distilled.
45% alcohol/90 proof
Botanicals (9): Juniper, coriander seed, lemon peel, bitter orange peel, grapefruit peel, jasmine, angelica root, orris root, cassia.
Style: Modern gin.
Fords gin is a brand that in recent years has really taken off. I know of people drinking it on at least four continents (apologies to Australia and Africa - if I left you off the list, but I’m not getting as much gin feedback from there compared to the rest of the world). The gin is the brainchild of Simon Ford who wanted to combine his favorite gins into what he hoped would be the world's best mixing gin.
Simon’s pedigree in the gin world was good. He has been involved in the creation of a number of high end gins, and with the help of master distiller Charles Maxwell - an 8th generation distiller who has a huge range of gins to his credit, they set out to make a gin which could be the workhorse for bartenders. You can see this even in little details on the bottle such as the measuring line in both liters and ounces.
If you check out their website, you’ll see just how they managed to pick their flavor profiles, looking for flavors that would go with, and accentuate almost all of the most widely imbibed* gin cocktails. It’s not the most wild or creative botanical list, but it’s solid and they did a lot with it.
In terms of marketing, the bottle is filled with images meant to conjure up visions of world travel and hints of the British empire (even though the bottle states it doesn’t take an Empire to make a gin). You’ll see passport stamps, steamship routes, elephants, crossed umbrellas and a slogan Distilled in London, Botanicals from Everywhere. They don’t highlight source, or local connections anywhere which alone in the modern gin world certainly helps it stand out.
* I was going to say “drunk” instead of imbibed, and while that could be the result in the end, it didn't seem quite the best word to use here.
You can sip this gin. It’s actually quite good sipped, but as always a drop of water or a bit of ice turns down the roughness of the spirit into something rather pleasant. It won’t make my list of favorite sipping gins, but it is better than some of the standard shelf brands.
Olfactorily, like most gin Fords is Juniper and citrus and coriander at the front, but there are a few floral notes there too. It’s not classic London dry smell but quite modern.
When you taste it you get a lot all at once. Silky smoothness spreads through your mouth with strong notes of juniper, and bright, bitter citrus, mellowed by the floral notes of jasmine, earthiness, and a touch of spice at the end.
My favorite part of it was the mouthfeel which is rich, viscous and slightly oily with a velvety feel.
On the rocks it’s not going to knock your socks off, but it’s quite drinkable and I can see myself having a pleasant evening sipping away at a party where Fords was on the bar table.
I have to admit I really liked this one in a classic martini. The mouthfeel of Fords is close to perfect in a martini, and the flavor is extremely good, although perhaps a bit on the citrusy side.
In a gin and tonic Fords did not disappoint. It nicely complimented Fever Trees Indian style tonic to produce a robust and entirely expected example of a good gin and tonic. It didn’t flash out with anything but the juniper and citrus - and kept the classic classic.
It’s solid enough in other cocktails too. I liked it a lot in a Perfect Negroni as flavors of caramelized citrus came through - a trait that was repeated in a Vesper martini where I really enjoyed the grapefruit tang. In an Aviation cocktail, it was fine but undistinguished, but that’s not all that surprising as heavy cocktails have a way of overwhelming gin. That said I was surprised by how well it blended in a Last word. But I think in citrus heavy drinks this one struggles a bit.
This is a solid well made gin. It's light enough to work as a gateway gin for those who are not (yet) traditional gin fans, but good enough for those who are. I can’t say it stands out in any single way, but it’s easy drinking and won’t disappoint. This is really is a good gin for most cocktails.
Overall rating: 87 Good mixing gin -, in fact better than average, which is its strength and raison d’ etre which can be enjoyed neat too.
What you need to know about reviews: All my reviews are my honest opinions based upon my own personal tasting. I am NOT a paid reviewer, and no compensation was given, or expected. I may from time to time choose to do a second review and amend my opinion of a product, should I feel like it and find my review criteria has evolved, or that I’ve found it different at a later date. That said, as I’m unlikely to repurchase anything I thought was less than very good to excellent, it would be by chance or at the request of a distiller who thought I rated them very unfairly - BUT even then, whatever you get will always be my honest opinion.